One Year

One year later. those words keep echoing as I was writing this week’s essay. It is about growth, acceptance and adventure. My favorite topics to write about. As you are reading this, try this writing prompt: where were you last year? what did your expectations for the immediate future include and how is the reality different? 

I realize I am curled up next to a crackling fire. My toes are heating up and the night air above me takes on an embracing calm chill. I need this now more than ever. My phone is unable to reach a call, or a buzz of bank alerts as a reminder of how close I am to failing at this. But I can’t yet define failing as every day is just a struggle to get from one moment to the next. So many people depend on me not to fail that I may have been doomed before I started. (According to my anxiety) What a year it has been. I say to the fire, and the air. Here I am, writing in the dark. Living this moment a year later than when I started this journey. Two toddlers are asleep in a tent; I hear a soft roar of their snoring as I take my sigh of relief in the form of a freshly poured glass of wine. The fire is begging me for it and I am happy to abide. This is my therapy, my happy place. My love hate relationship with the world, especially the people in it, has pushed me toward solo relaxation. No waiting in line to use the restroom or nudging my way through crowds while lost in a sea of people watching – Just me, the fire, the chatter of my older daughters and light conversation with my husband.

Continue reading One Year

The Uncomfortable Monster

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
July 5, 2017

I live in this haze of memory and future fear, feeding the monster.

That is how anxiety works, it is the monster that lives inside of me. It scares me into two corners of past and future and get stuck there, unstuck from this present moment. The monster creates “to-do” lists and completion checks. Then it slides me into depression like the ocean waves hitting the sand it curls around me as I distantly get caught up in my own thoughts and worries. Everything becomes a reminder of the future – the things I should be doing- the mother, woman and human that I should be. It dictates my shame and tells me dreams don’t count unless they have financial value. Suddenly title, whether a book or job title, matter more and important things are only measured in currency. And I retreat into absence.

So I have been noticeably absent lately.

Absent from my writing, my goals or even my persistence. It is easy to do. I have been battling a case of seasonal anxiety. It is a lot like allergies. There is the mental fog, pressure, pushing against the brim of my nose until it itches. The uncomfortable itch of allergies pressing from my cheeks to the whites of my eyes. They begin to water. Something isn’t right. I desperately want to sneeze, to release. My nose begins to water, trying to drip in sync with the tears that slide down my face and brush a salty glaze onto the corner of my lips. I am in full bloom anxiety season. Medicine is my first instinct. It could unclog some of the pressure on my face, slowing down the need to sneeze (release) and the need to cry. But it puts me in a fog, a haze, like trying to see out of the front window of my car through a film of pollen disposed from the trees. Just like allergies, there is no magic solution for the pressure. In the midst of this anxiety season I am working harder on coping techniques. But pills, like coping techniques, only work when I take them everyday like a routine.

There are also bad coping techniques

Self pity fills my eyes with tears. I blame myself, then I blame others. They are too demanding, or distant or unable to give me the answer i want to hear. Or they are struggling their way through anxiety season as well. I look at the pages I just wrote. The only friend that listens completely to my words, and becomes them. I sneeze on the pages. First there was the itching, then the pressure that squeezed the brim of my nose. Look at the light. I have been told. So I stare right into the bright side and sneeze beautifully onto my blank journal page. I am finally able to fill my lungs with oxygen and see the entire portrait

Writing is my strongest weapon against the monster

I have always known I need to write. I call it a lot of things, my dream, my passion, my saving grace. It is the release of the words and thoughts that are swirling around my head like magnets on a refrigerator. When I write, I can organize, control and beautify them. My pen is my armor and my sword. Sometimes other people read and relate and I get high on that feeling, that connection. Sometimes I get high on my own words, like an artist who just painted a masterpiece.

So I just keep writing.

Easing my future, calming my past and keeping the anxiety monster under my bed.

** drawing by my amazing daughter. I asked for a cute little monster to personify my anxiety. She added the goat characteristics because “goats always look anxious”

Merge

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
November 15, 2016

*When I am unable to write, it is often due to anxiety or depression. They are my writing blocks. This week, I was able to work through the block by listing out the things I was feeling anxious or depressed about. Here is one of my journaling therapy sessions. Feeling overwhelmed? Give it a try

 

I turned thirty-seven this week. Then I did the thing I have been avoiding for a while; I let my thoughts wander to that dark side of regret and self-doubt the same way I might indulge in chocolate ice cream and watch romantic comedies. I listed all the failures that have been bringing me down: gaining weight; losing my job; only having one bathroom; my double hairy chin; gravity; this week in social media; never finishing laundry; spending $80 on a T-shirt to fill yet another void; not really knowing what is next. I know the pressure will build up and a spectacular storm will brew inside my head. Bursts of dangerous lightning ideas would flicker into a rumble of pity and depression and anxiety. They have always been my monsters; my burdens. I booked an emergency session with my therapist: my journal. She speaks calmly – reassuring this crying, ice cream inhaling mess of a woman everything would be ok. Make a list. Ten things I am depressed about lately. Then make a second one; the ten things I am grateful for. I start to feel better. There are a lot of stressors and sometimes they converge into one big cluster of doubt. She encourages me to speak in metaphors and I tell her about this merge I keep encountering in the middle of my town.

For one teeny tiny little light, the left and right lane become one. There is a large yellow sign that warns drivers of this convergence. It reads “Left lane ends; merge right” with plenty of time for drivers to get over. This intersection truly infuriates me. There is always a stray driver or two that conveniently misses this sign and speeds up to cut off the line of obedient cars. Every time I see this happen, I yell at the cars in front of me. Go!!! Don’t let that asshole get over. No! Go! Awe!! You suck. I have this conversation almost daily. There is something about this merging that sends my anxiety into a hamster wheel.

Turning thirty-seven has been my merger. I am on this road. Next is this giant sign commanding me to merge the way losing my job has forced me to merge into another life. Why was I staying in the right lane, just waiting and waiting and waiting only to get cutoff. The most glaringly obvious answer was to take another route. One that weaves in and out of brightly colored tree-lined streets and old colonial style homes. This way always takes longer and there is always a chance I may take the wrong road and end up turned around and right back home. This is the road I have been forced to take. Four years ago when I started my job, there was no heavy merging. I was going to take the road and it was going to lead me straight where I needed to be. I was going to rock this, but somehow I failed. Maybe I was the one that missed the giant yellow sign.

I am taking my kids to the library – on the other side of the yellow sign. Like a prophet, I predicted there would be that person, the last-minute merger. He inched over a little. I didn’t budge. He didn’t even have a blinker on so I wasn’t even sure this fight was real or presumed. I persisted ahead and he pulled over behind me just as the lanes melted into each other. See that. I told the girls. Not today jerk face. Not today. I took the turn at the next light on my way to the library and he followed. As I was turning into the library he pulled up next to me and rolled down his window. “Fucking Bitch!” he screamed.

I am living every mother’s fantasy- I am going to the grocery store alone. My mind is filling with recipes and healthy eating and thinking about actually getting to read labels before I buy so I don’t end up with the four hundred calorie “no trans fat” soup. As always, that yellow sign interrupts my thoughts. There is a box truck ahead of the line so cars are inching along hoping to make the next light. There is one car in the left lane, obviously ignoring the line of us patiently waiting out the light. I clench my lips and shake my head mentally going through the usual lecture. I hug the bumper in front of me a little closer than normal. Then the car in front of me does the same and the car in front and so on. There were five or six cars our united caravan against bad driving. I glanced in my mirror and watched the helpless blinker of the car that no one would let over as the line of traffic passed. A few cars back, they finally were able to get into the lane. My smile was victorious and I felt a sense of comradery with the other cars that unanimously decided: not today.

There will always be that intersection. There will always be depression and anxiety. Some days the drivers in the intersection will be completely inconsiderate jerks. It will depress me and trigger a hamster wheel of anxiety. But there is nothing I can do to change it. I doubt my town would invest on infrastructure since one resident regularly loses it. I bring this up to my therapist. What is one thing that you like about the intersection? She asks. It is in the middle of my beautiful town.. There will always be mergers in the road. They will never be smooth and someone usually looks like the jerk. I anticipate it but refuse to keep letting it bother me. The only thing I can do is to take a deep breath and say: not today.

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Turning Point

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
November 4, 2016

I remember laying in the hot Florida sun looking at the gulf waters sliding along the coast line sparkling in magnificent shades of blue to where the lines between ocean and sky were hand drawn by beams of sunlight mirroring off the water. But I had this internal struggle between the appreciation of beauty and awareness of the environment around me- sandy, smelly and salty. Under the waves lie unknown clusters of danger like jelly fish or sharks. Walking along the ocean is a terrifying beauty as I spend equal amounts of time in awe of it and in fear that I may step on a jellyfish or jagged rock or decaying fish. And it was really humid. Sand was magnetized by the exposed and sweaty areas of my body. The back of my knee was in a constant state of exfoliation. Maybe I have slight fear of the ocean or an infatuation.

I have had that same fear when I started writing. Is the beauty of it worth the fear, the unconfortableness, and exposure to vulnerable areas? Strip away all the detail, and all that is left is still beauty. Are my beach concerns issues, or petty fears? I can’t remember what I did first, see the ocean or start writing. I am finally at a point in my life were writing can actually be priority and it terrifies me. The metaphoric jelly fish. I am walking along the beach- split between looking down in danger and looking up in beauty.

Our road trip ended as far west as we could go, the Oregon Coast. It was a different kind of ocean that I was used to. My beach experiences are mostly of the Atlantic and Gulf. My version of ocean is for swimming and laying out trying to read a book. The Pacific version is slightly different. We drive up this winding road while the ocean stabs itself into the mountainside. The perfectly melodic voice of Nick Drake narrates; “Now if it’s time to recompense for what’s done; Come, come sit down on the fence in the sun; And the clouds will roll by; And we’ll never deny; It’s really too hard for to fly.” In this middle earth-esque scenery I knew there is something vast and bigger, more demanding of this ocean. We had driven three thousand miles and this was the climax. Starting back home meant starting over. This was the reset button; the refresh that my life so desperately needs. I wasn’t thinking about fiscal deadlines or performance discussions. I wasn’t thinking about the pending list of school supplies or pairs of new jeans and shoes. I didn’t have time to wonder if I was working too much and missing how fast the babies were growing up. There is a spot near all the tide pools. We had to climb along the rocks to come to it. It is a deep hole in the rock and every time a wave approaches, the water sprays out of the top. I stood there. Holding Jackson’s little hand and watching Olivia try to get a perfectly timed picture. Once the mist sprayed me in the face and I knew that there was no turning back.

In 2011 I started a blog to help chase away some personal demons I was fighting at the time. It was my outlet and when I was keeping it up the demons stayed at a safe distance. When I didn’t write regularly, they resumed their descent. Layla described writing harmony as three things working in unison: motivation, timing and inspiration. In a perfect world, all three would exist. Stripping everything else away to concentrate on writing creates a whole new pressure system. Holy shit. So much pressure. And cracking under pressure is exactly why I lost my job. The demons are closing in so I am back. Keeping up with today’s ocean themed metaphor. Think Jaws. Circling the boat. I am the boat.

This blog is the start of my new life. The Pursuit took me to the ocean that day and since then I have stopped making plans. I am not organized or neat or well thought out. I exist best in chaos not order. I don’t think, I feel. I don’t just go to the ocean: I journey to the ocean. When I imagined my life as a writer, there was a quiet room lit only by the stream of natural sunlight pouring in and a purring cat at my feet. In reality I am sitting in my windowless basement playroom splattered by toys, and electronics and the laundry I am reminded I have to fold. I see half empty cups that the girls have promised they would clean up. Cece is climbing on the couch next to me sometimes using the keyboard as leverage to stand on back ledge. Jackson is rolling his cars along legs; the long stubble is perfect for makeshift grass. Somewhere in all this chaos, Cassidy Marie Rose was born. She sprung out like the waves in that hole spraying everyone with a delightful mist of writing. This is where the journey begins. New blog. New life. New perspective. New identity. I have spent so many times in the writing closet unable to admit this side of me. For fear of rejection, ridicule, and exposure. Welcome to my unveiling my locked journal. I am no longer afraid of the unknown ocean. But I am still a little bit terrified of jellyfish.